Lavender Salt Chocolate

Lavender Chocolate
Originally uploaded by kevinq2000
Some friends gave us a box of lavender salt, so we returned the favor by mixing it with melted chocolate.

Also, I recently got a handheld digital video camera, so I'm practicing making and uploading baby videos.

Making the chocolate was easy. I melted some Ghirardelli 60% chocolate pieces, added about a tablespoon of the salt, poured it out in a pan, waited for it to cool, then cut it into pieces and papered up.

The only part of that not shown in the video is the cutting. While the chocolate was cooling, I would occasionally draw a toothpick across the chocolate. When the chocolate was cool enough that the cuts didn't melt back together, I used a toothpick to draw lines all across. That was enough to at least score the chocolate, and then when it finished cooling, the bars were easy to break apart.

The only flaw in my cunning plan is that the chocolate began to bloom where the salt was near the surface. This doesn't hurt the chocolate, but does cause slight discoloration. (Bloom is the pale brown coloring you get on chocolate sometimes, especially if it's been in the refrigerator. It's totally harmless, but less-than-esthetically pleasing.)


First Los Angeles Earthquake - And I missed it!

Los Angeles at Sunset
Originally uploaded by kevinq2000
According to the news, a 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck 30 miles from Los Angeles at 11:42 local time.

And I completely missed it! We had just been let out for lunch and we were walking outside at that time, and none of us felt it. We had no indication of an earthquake until we came back, and the elevators were still offline. We had to trudge back up eight flights of stairs to the classroom.

I've gotten to witness L.A. traffic, and L.A. smog, and I completely missed my first L.A. earthquake. :-(

Maybe next time.


Books I've never read

From dilicous :
Below is a list of the top 106 books tagged “unread” on LibraryThing. The rules:
bold = what you’ve read,
italics = books you started but couldn’t finish
crossed out = books you hated
* = you’ve read more than once
underline = books you own but haven’t read yourself

1. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
6. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
7. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
8. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
9. The Odyssey by Homer*
10. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
11. Ulysses by James Joyce
12. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
13. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
14. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte*
15. Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
16. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
17. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
18. The Iliad by Homer
19. Emma by Jane Austen
20. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
21. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
22. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
23. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer*
24. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
25. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
26. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
27. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
28. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
29. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
30. Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
31. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
32. Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
33. Dracula by Bram Stoker*
34. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
35. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
36. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley*
37. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf*
38. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
39. Middlemarch by George Eliot
40. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
41. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
42. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
43. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
44. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley*
45. Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
46. American Gods by Neil Gaiman*
47. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
48. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
49. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
50. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
51. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
52. Dune by Frank Herbert
53. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
54. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
55. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
56. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
57. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
58. The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
59. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
60. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
61. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf*
62. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
63. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
64. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
65. Persuasion by Jane Austen*
66. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
67. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
68. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
69. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
70. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
71. Atonement by Ian McEwan
72. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
73. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
74. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
75. Dubliners by James Joyce
76. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
77. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
78. Beloved by Toni Morrison
79. Collapse by Jared Diamond
80. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
81. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
82. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
83. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
84. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
85. Watership Down by Richard Adams
86. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
87. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman*
88. Beowulf by Anonymous*
89. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
90. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
91. The Aeneid by Virgil
92. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
93. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
94. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
95. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
96. Possession by A.S. Byatt
97. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
98. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
99. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
100. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells*
101. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
102. Candide by Voltaire
103. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
104. The Plague by Albert Camus
105. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
106. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

You may have noticed that number 29, Life of Pi, is crossed out (I hated it), but neither italicized nor bolded (I haven't read it).  The fact is, I could only make it through the author's introduction before throwing it down in hatred.  The overblown, apparently unironic pretentiousness of it all made me want to stab myself in the eye.  Jill finished it and told me about it, and I feel that my hatred was justified.

So, how about you?


That Austrian dungeon thing

I've been trying to wrap my brain around that horror in Austria. You just ask yourself, what kind of a person is that? How does that happen?
And it all meant this: that there are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal, kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.

Terry Pratchett. Small Gods

Austria. Abu Ghraib. The Nazis. It kind of explains them all.